When I cheated on Tony Hawk – Living Life Through Cheat Codes (1 King 3-11)

 

If you played any Playstation at all in the last 15 years, odds are at some point you played some Tony Hawk.  While the game has seen more re-imaginings than the original Star Wars trilogy, it is the classic Hawk titles from the PSone days that nailed the formula.  But now, its confession time.  See, I can’t honestly say I spent too much of my time playing by the rules.  As soon as I found out that there were these wonderful things called “Cheat Codes” available, I immediately became the master of gravity and physics, giving myself the ability to fly into the air for miles before landing, grind any surface without fear of falling, perform a perfect manual all the way around a level, and most importantly play as Wolverine.  I collected every hidden tape, spelled S-K-A-T-E with ridiculous ease, and broke every level’s scoring goal often on my very first trick.

What would happen if we could “unlock” the full potential of the human body?

Now that my conscience is finally clear on all those high scores I posted, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if we could simply punch in some cheat codes to make every day living easier.  Fiction writers and Hollywood have toyed with this idea for years; mixing science with fantasy in every form of entertainment postulating what would happen if we could “unlock” the full potential of the human body.  From everything to mutants representing the full capabilities of our physical form, to experiments that give people the ability to use all 100% of our brain power, or ancient relics such as magic lamps and secret fountains to grant wishes or eternal life, we have long been fascinated with the concept of a “secret code” that will open up the hidden powers that we all crave in some form.

Be honest… at some point we have all dreamed of flying, or being able to move objects with telepathy, or maybe having super strength or the ability to read minds.  Maybe your particular “cheat code” would be more money, to defeat aging and live forever, or even something slightly more pedestrian such as a new house or car.  So what if cheat codes were real?  What if you God came to you today with the option to enter any cheat code you wanted into your life?  What would you ask for?  The Bible has a record of one such event – a day that God offered one chosen man the ultimate cheat code.

What if cheat codes were real?

In 1 Kings chapter 3 we find Solomon, newly established king of Israel in the place of the recently deceased David, his father.  God appears to him in a dream and simply says, “Ask me what I shall give to you.”  Wow.  Can you imagine?  God gives you one wish… one choice which will change your life forever.  No boundaries, nothing off limits, only restrained by your imagination.  What would you request from an omnipotent God?  Let’s see what Solomon does.  After setting the stage by admitting he is young and inexperienced, Solomon asks God for WISDOM – specifically for a mind and heart of understanding.  Of all the things that he could ask for, he asks for sound judgment.  I sincerely doubt I would have had the discipline to make such a request, and this clearly delighted God in such a way that He not only grants Solomon the wisest mind of any man who had ever lived or ever will, but also gave Solomon all that things he didn’t prioritize – wealth, peace from all enemies, and even a lengthened life span IF he would prove faithful to God’s commands.

So here Solomon sits – the wisest, richest king on earth, owner of the greatest cheat code in history, world-renowned for his exceptional knowledge on any subject.  He was so rich the Bible tells us that silver was considered worthless because it was so plentiful during his rule, and even his drinking cups were made of pure gold!  Descriptions of his opulent living and incredible accomplishments fill the next seven chapters of the book, and it certainly appears that Solomon is the showcase for an episode of “Lifestyles of the FILTHY rich and famous”.  So many times I have heard people say that all they need is more money, and everything would be different.  If they could win the lottery, go to college, or if they had a better house, or even something as simple as a clean bill of health.  Well, Solomon had all of these things and so much more – let’s see how this story ends.

How does this man still fail, when he had it all?

We all have temptations in life – and Solomon certainly had his.  And no amount of money, wisdom, peace, or health would satisfy this particular appetite.  1 Kings 11 informs us in very direct terms that Solomon loved women… MANY women.  Women of every nationality, every background – he amassed a harem that defies full description.  700 wives, 300 concubines, and these were not just your average women either.  They are described as princesses – Royalty.  The best of the best from every country – and this was no simple act of obsessive-compulsive collection, because the story states that Solomon truly loved them ALL.  He loved them so much that he built each of them a place to worship the deity of their nationality.  Solomon’s misguided love may have been genuine, but it was also his ultimate downfall.  Not only did he use the riches given to him by God to build shrines for worship of these fake “gods”, but he also joined his wives in the worship of them as well.

For all that he was given, Solomon’s fatal flaw disabled the cheat codes he was given.  See, God’s promises were contingent on Solomon’s obedience, and his failure would prove to be costly.  A spurned God, after all He had showered upon Solomon, informed him that He would be taking the kingdom back, ending the party quite prematurely.  Solomon’s reign ended after 40 years, with the final years of his life seeing the peace he had enjoyed broken, as God stirred up adversaries for him including the man that would eventually take the kingdom from Solomon’s own son.  Let’s list all of the incredible advantages Solomon had – privileged birth and status as the heir to the throne, personal visitations by God on two separate occasions, the ultimate cheat codes of money, power, peace, love, health, wisdom… how much better can it get?  How does this man still fail, when he had it all?

Solomon’s story is a cautionary tale for all of us – there are no real life cheat codes, and even if we had the things we wish for, they don’t lead to true happiness or fulfillment.  If you received your greatest wish today, it would not solve all of your problems any more than it solved Solomon’s.  Solomon would have been a victim of his own lustful desires regardless of his status – becoming king with infinite power and money only made it EASIER for him to fulfill those appetites.  If he was poor, of average intelligence, in a normal home he would STILL be a prisoner of those very same urges, and simply would have fulfilled them in a less spectacular fashion.

The greatest gift God could ever give was Himself

And so we see a principle established – there is only ONE gift from God that can truly change your life.  It’s not a dumpster truck filled with cash, a CEO position with your company, or that attractive person that you have been praying would notice you.  You won’t be fulfilled with a beautiful voice that sells platinum records, or the perfect body you wish you had.  Even in our very own fiction we are aware that people gifted with superhuman abilities only amplify their character flaws (see every comic book villain ever for full details).  The greatest gift God could ever give was Himself – Jesus living WITH us and IN us on a daily basis is the only way we can overcome those areas of our life that hold us back from our true potential.  The beauty of this is it is a FREE gift – no cheat code needed.  At the end of his life, Solomon and all his wisdom failed to see that he already had all he would ever need right in front of him – a relationship with a very real God.

I will never be able to use the force to carry nachos to my table.  I will never conjure up fireballs in my hands or sprout adamantium claws from fists.  And that’s okay – actually for the well-being of those around me it is really for the best.  I will never get to enter a cheat code to experience any of those things.  But I have Someone who walked the Perfect walk, lived the Perfect life, and far better than any Tony Hawk code has promised to walk with me every step of the way to make sure I land every jump without the use of broken gravity.  Truly walk with Jesus today, every step of the way – He has all the riches of the universe at His disposal, the only true wisdom and insight into every situation, the ability to open any door, and He will supply every need in the moment you need it if you walk faithfully with Him!

 

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